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Maher Terminal Port Elizabeth. Photo by John Skelson

Go behind the scenes of our bustling port on a Hidden Harbor Tour this Saturday. The Working Harbor Committee presents their 2.5 hour fully narrated Hidden Harbor Tour of Port Newark, in partnership with Circle Line Sightseeing.

Bill Miller, “Mr Ocean-Liner” is the guest speaker and together with Captain John Doswell, they will give industry-insider tidbits as the tour boat winds her way through the harbor. Get tickets here.

Explorer of the Seas Pearl River and Quantico Creek. Photo by John Skelson

The tour departs from Pier 84 on the Hudson River (W42nd Street and 12 Avenue), on a comfortable Circle Line boat with an outdoor deck as well as an air-conditioned deck and cruises through “tugboat alley” – the Kill Van Kull, to the container terminals of Port Newark.

Laura K Moran Pushing Hard. Photo by John Skelson

a journalist from recently joined us on a tour. She wrote of her experience:

It’s easy for us New Yorkers to forget that we’re actually islanders, and even easier to lose sight of the size and scope of the working port that our city’s harbor once was . . . and very much still is. In fact, New York Harbor today only trails Long Beach and Los Angeles in California amongst the nation’s largest ports in terms of size, and holds the title of the busiest working port on the East Coast.

So many photos! Photo by John Skelson

For some insight into this behind-the-scenes side of NYC, Hidden Harbor Tours recently launched operations aboard Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises (the tours were previously conducted on New York Water Taxi) to showcase a fascinating back-door peek into the goings-on of New York Harbor (including both the New York and New Jersey waterfronts) that’s far removed from the typical tourist boat circuits that normally ply these waters.

Underway. Photo by John Skelson

Participants get to ogle nooks and crannies where the other tourist boats don’t venture, offering up-close encounters with tugboats, shipping barges, and other assorted maritime vessels, plus plenty of hidden-from-view shoreline sights that you wouldn’t be able to see any other way.

Morgan Reinauer at Caddell’s Dry Dock. Photo by John Skelson

Designed by nonprofit organization Working Harbor Committee, the narrated 2.5-hour tours launched in June 2014, and are scheduled to run on select Saturdays through October. Commentary onboard is offered by a rotating roster of noted maritime speakers and historians.

Gramma T Lee Moran huffin’ and puffin’. Photo by John Skelson

Cruises board at 10:30am, and sail from 11am to 1:30pm. Tickets cost $40/adults; $35/seniors; and $26/kids ages 3 to 12 (children under 3 are free). A portion of the ticket proceeds go toward supporting Working Harbor Committee’s mission. Visit or  to book; sailings embark on Circle Line from Pier 83 on the Hudson River (at W. 42nd St. & 12th Ave.). Read more at here

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee. All photos except image of Bill Miller by John Skelson.

The New York Times reports that the historic steamship SS United States could be headed for Brooklyn in a matter of months.

SS United States docked at Philadelphia, Pa. Photo by Lowlova via wikipedia

The 990-foot-long, luxury ocean liner that once steamed across the Atlantic has been slowly disintegrating, tied to a pier in South Philly.

The ships financially struggling owner, the SS United States Conservancy has been talking to several developers about options for converting the vessel into a hotel/entertainment/shopping mall complex, or some other combination of reuse, in an effort to save the “last American ocean liner” from being scrapped.

SS United States at sea, 1950s. Photo via wikipedia item held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

The New York Times: Scrapping the ship would destroy a piece of American social history and an engineering landmark that still holds the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by an ocean liner, said Susan L. Gibbs, executive director of the conservancy and granddaughter of the ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs.

“There is no other American ocean liner left,” she said in an interview. “This is the last one.”

SS United States in dock at Pier 86 in New York on 31 July 1964. Photo by JR Covert via wikipedia

Now there’s word that the ship could come back to homeport here in Brooklyn.

The ship may move to a location in Brooklyn within four to six months if negotiations with the conservancy succeed, according to a person with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are continuing.

The person said he was optimistic that a deal would be done, and that the ship would be reborn as a commercial and cultural center.

The SS United States in Philadelphia February 25, 2012. Photo by Smallbones via wikipedia

Simply keeping the ship tied up in Philadelphia costs at least $60,000 a month, and that has drained the conservancy’s resources to the point where redevelopment is the only option, Ms. Gibbs said.

SS United States in New York Harbor. Photo postcard via Cafe Parisian

Despite the ship’s historic listing, the conservancy receives no government funding, she said. Read more at the The New York Times here…

Anyone know where she might be headed in Brooklyn? Any speculations?

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

City of Water Day was held this past Saturday, with a visit to the FDNY Fireboat 343, and a cruise on the Fireboat John J Harvey. Also, there are a few photos from the ferry ride to Manhattan.

Cape Beale at Stapleton. Photo by John Skelson

Evening Tide. Photo by John Skelson

Tug Jay Michael and Launch Alex D with dredging ops at MOT Channel Bayonne. Photo by John Skelson

Still at Weeks Marine, Jersey City, Left Coast Lifter’s boom has been raised, maybe finally preparing to head for the Tappan Zee Bridge. Photo by John Skelson

Justine McAllister with an oil barge “On the Hip”. Photo by John Skelson

Fireboat “Three Forty Three”. Photo by John Skelson

The huge Bow Monitor on Three Forty Three capable of delivering 18,000 gallons of water per minute. Photo by John Skelson

Tug Pegasus taking on passengers for a cruise. Photo by John Skelson

Fireboat John J Harvey. Photo by John Skelson

John J Harvey salutes Norwegian Gem as she leaves port on a cruise. Photo by John Skelson

Keep spotting,
John Skelson

All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee

Ed Note: Don’t forget, John’s photos are on exhibit through July 31st onboard the Historic Lighthouse Tender “Lilac”. Ship hours are: 4:00 to 7:00 PM Thursdays and 2:00 to 7:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is Free. (Directions to Pier 25.)

Photo via Baylander.US

Be the first to tour Baylander, the tiniest ex-U.S. Navy aircraft carrier!

Only 131 feet in length, Baylander served in Vietnam before being converted into a helicopter trainer for pilots from the U.S. Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. [MarineLink/Trenk Family Foundation]

Photo via Baylander.US

Heralded as the US Navy’s “smallest aircraft carrier”, the historic vessel will be docked at Brooklyn Bridge Park‘s Pier 5 on weekends for FREE ship tours that will highlight her history and extraordinary service. Weekend ship tours start July 26 from 10am – 4pm.

Baylander IX-514’s arrival highlights the anticipated completion of Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina, the largest recreational marina to be developed in New York Harbor in 50 years.

Photo via Baylander.US

MarineLink: In addition, the developers of Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina, the largest recreational marina to be developed in New York Harbor in 50 years, say they are excited to announce an array of programming goals for the summer of 2014 associated with the arrival of Baylander, which will further BBP’s goal of promoting recreational boating and on- water educational programming, and provide New Yorkers even more opportunities to actively connect with their waterfront.

Fireboat John J. Harvey. Photo: ©John Skelson

The development team currently anticipates an open date of April 2015 for the marina. Prior to the start of construction, it is bringing Baylander to BBP to serve as the platform for other vessels to access the park. 

Letti G. Howard is put back in service with help from New York Harbor School students. Photo by Xavi Ocaña via Downtown Magazine NYC

These will include, amongst other historic vessels, Lettie G. Howard, a wooden Schooner built in 1893, owned by South Street Seaport Museum and operated by the Urban Assembly Harbor School, as well as Fireboat John J. Harvey a retired FDNY fireboat built in 1931.

Read more at MarineLink here…

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Samuel I. Newhouse, one of two Barberi class ferry boats in the fleet. Photo via wikipedia

Yesterday, the 40th annual “Boat Ride for God’s Exceptional Children” took place aboard the Staten Island Ferry boat, Samuel I. Newhouse.

For the past 4 decades, The Marine and Aviation Club, Branch 119, has hosted a very special tour around the harbor for special needs people of all ages. [Staten Island Advance]

The annual event hosted 1,000 guests this year. Photo courtesy of Matthew Montalto via Staten Island Advance.

Although organizing the event can be challenging, the sheer joy on the faces of the happy guests are so rewarding that some 24 volunteer organizations work tirelessly each year to raise donations and organize the logistics for the much-anticipated event.

Mickey and Minnie entertain the crowd. Photo courtesy of Matthew Montalto via Staten Island Advance.

The annual event transforms the ferry boat into a huge floating party space, with hundreds of balloons and thousands of hot-dogs, dancing clowns and costumed characters entertaining the guests while 3 DJ’s played music on the three separate decks.

A FDNY fireboat shoots water into New York Harbor during the 40th annual “Boat Ride for God’s Exceptional Children,” event. Photo courtesy of Matthew Montalto via Staten Island Advance

The FDNY always delights children and adults alike with an impressive water salute.

Members from Marine and Aviation Anchor Club, Branch 119. From left to right: Charles Karbowski, Ron Roaldsen, honoree Thomas Edward Monahan, Thomas Reilly, and Tom Monahan. Photo courtesy of Matthew Montalto via Staten Island Advance

This year’s trip honored Thomas Edward Monahan, secretary of the Marine and Aviation Anchor Club, Branch 119 who has been involved with the charity event for more than 30 years.

Read more at the Staten Island Advance here and here

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Historic Fireboat John J. Harvey rides! Photo via MWA

Just 3 more days until the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance presents their annual City of Water Day festival!

Man the monitors of a historic fireboat. Photo via MWA

Every July, the MWA hosts City of Water Day – a full day festival, filled with free waterfront activities – boat rides, live music, dockside tours, great food and more!

Photo via MWA

There’s even a cardboard-kayak race – so much fun for the whole family.

Competitors from last year’s cardboard kayak race. Photo via

City of Water Day: MWA’s City of Water Day Festival is a free day-long celebration that draws thousands of people from throughout the NY-NJ metropolitan region to participate in hundreds of unique, fun, and educational waterfront activities held all around the harbor.

Organized by MWA and its 700 Alliance Partners, the events run between 10am – 4pm this Saturday July 12th, 2014. 

Hands-on exhibits for the whole family to enjoy. Photo via MWA

Check out the many, activities at the festival and in your own neighborhood! Click here for directions to the various locations.

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas. Photo via The Royal Navy.

Named after the British monarch, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was christened with a bottle of single-malt whiskey, instead of the usual champagne on the 4th of July, 2014 in Fife, Scotland.

She’s the largest warship ever built in the UK, the 65,000 ton aircraft carrier is the first of 2 new Royal Navy warships being built. [BBC News]

HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo via The Telegraph.

BBC News: First Sea Lord Admiral George Zambellas said the ship was “fit for a Queen”. “HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a national instrument of power and a national symbol of authority,” he said in a speech. “That means she will be a national icon too, all the while keeping the great in Great Britain and the royal in Royal Navy.”

The Queen was accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh for the naming ceremony. Photo via BBC News

Addressing the audience, the Queen said the “innovative and first class” warship, the largest ever to be built in the UK, ushered in an “exciting new era”.

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo via The Royal Navy

“In sponsoring this new aircraft carrier, I believe the Queen Elizabeth will be a source of inspiration and pride for us all,” she said.

“May God bless her and all who sail in her.”

The Red Arrows flew over the dockyard before the Queen officially named the ship. Photo via The Royal Navy

Six shipyards in the UK including Tyne, Rosyth and Appledore have been involved in building parts of the carrier. More than 10,000 people at more than 100 companies have worked on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has been beset by construction and design delays. The estimated cost of the vessel and its sister ship is £6.2bn, well over the initial projected cost of £3.65bn.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers being built. Photo via BBC News

The warship is as long as 25 buses and can carry 40 jets and helicopters at a time. It will have a permanent crew of almost 1,600 when it enters service in 2020. Mr Booth described it as a “floating military city that can deploy aircraft, that can act as a disaster relief center”. Read more at The BBC News here

by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee


Sorry for the late posting today, I took a much-needed morning off before we head into busy time – fun-season! With so many festivals and events coming up, it’s going to be a great July!

Our own ship spotter, John Skelson‘s photo exhibit “Tugboats – Workhorses of NY Harbor” opens today 5 July onboard the historic lighthouse tender Lilac moored at Pier 25 in lower Manhattan. Opening reception is Tuesday 8 July from 6-9 pm. Tug Pegasus will be moored next to Lilac Tuesday night, so there will be opportunity for ship tours.


Tug Pegasus. Photo via

City of Water Day, hosted by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, is coming up next Saturday, 12 July with free boat rides, food, music and exhibits. Check out all the fun happenings at their website here.


Tug Lynx at the Bayonne Bridge. Photo: ©Mitch Waxman

Join us on our next Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark, hosted by the Working Harbor Committee in partnership with Circle Line Sightseeing.  Saturday 19 July, at 11 am. Our 2.5 hour cruise behind the scenes of our great container port terminals, oodles of tugboats at work on the KVK, moving gargantuan infrastructure with ease through our harbor. Reservations can be booked here.


by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee

It’s not often, in fact very rarely that I will get out before sunrise; but this past Monday USS Slater was scheduled to leave Caddell Dry Dock and head for home at 0500 hrs.

I dragged myself to my usual spot just east of Caddell’s and was not disappointed. Not only did I photograph Slater, the Kill Van Kull was alive with traffic at sunrise. Here is just a taste of what was happening.

Bayonne Bridge at Dawn. Photo: ©John Skelson

HMS Justice Barge on the Hip Leaving Bayonne. Photo: ©John Skelson

Sabine McAllister, a New Arrival in NY Harbor. Photo: ©John Skelson

Patricia at Sunrise. Photo: ©John Skelson

Kobe Express. Photo: ©John Skelson

Heavy Traffic at the Bayonne Bridge – Maersk Iowa with Gramma Lee and Miriam Moran and Glen Canyon Bridge with Robert E and Ellen McAllister. Photo: ©John Skelson

Emerald Coast. Photo: ©John Skelson

Brenda (a Turecamo) This is Tugboat Painting Time. Photo: ©John Skelson

Resolute with Glen Canyon Bridge. Photo: ©John Skelson

ZIM New York. Photo: ©John Skelson

Lastly, there will be an exhibit of my photos on the Historic Lighthouse Tender “Lilac” opening Saturday July 5, with a reception on Tuesday July 8th from 6-9 PM. The exhibit will be up for the month of July. (Directions to Pier 25.)

Hoping for a dry 4th of July!

All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee

Ed note: A special treat this morning from Ship Spotter, John Skelson who was up and on the KVK earrrrly this morning to bid the USS Slater ‘bon voyage’ as she wound her way up the Kill, headed home to Albany. Thank you, John!

0500 Hrs. 30 June, 2014.

We saw her on dry dock 2 weeks ago on the Hidden Harbor Tour®, and this past Saturday she was in the water sporting her “Dazzle Paint Job”.

Slater left Caddell Dry Dock this morning, June 30, almost on time in great early morning light, before sunrise. Here are a few of the photos… And if the Slater wasn’t enough, the Kill Van Kull was alive with ship traffic… 5 Container Ships and I do not know how many tugs… now to take a nap.

Dry Docked 2 Weeks Ago. ©John Skelson

Back in the Water, this Past Saturday. ©John Skelson

Coming Out of Caddell’s 0520 Hrs. ©John Skelson

Underway. ©John Skelson

Slater with Tugs Margot and Frances. ©John Skelson

A Dazzle-ing Paint Job. ©John Skelson

Outbound in the KVK at the 9 Buoy. ©John Skelson

All Hands on Deck. ©John Skelson

At the Salt Pile. ©John Skelson

Tug Margot. ©John Skelson

Passing ZIM New York. ©John Skelson

Next Stop Albany NY. ©John Skelson

More photos from this morning later this week… Happy spotting… John Skelson

All photos by John Skelson, generously shared with the Working Harbor Committee


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